The Wines of Galais the Surrealist's unusual guide to all things wine.
Salvador Dalí may be world famous for his paintings, but the Catalonian Surrealist had a lesser-known artistic talent, too. He and his wife, Gala, threw amazing dinner parties. In 2016, the publisher TASCHEN re-released Dalí's rare 1973 cookbook, Les Diners de Gala, his guide to whipping up elaborate meals like the ones he and Gala presented at their parties. Now, the publisher presents The Wines of Gala, his equally bizarre follow-up guide to viticulture. Originally published in 1977, it’s a study of the history of wine illustrated with Dalí's art, including classical nudes and other works that the artist appropriated and reimagined with his quintessentially freaky style. TASCHEN describes the book as “a flamboyant, free-flowing manifesto in favor of taste and feeling,” and that hardly does it justice.
Along with 140 artworks by Dalí himself, the book provides a crash-course in wine production and history. With text by French writer Max Gérard and winemakers Philippe de Rothschild and Louis Orizet, it features an overview of 10 different wine-growing regions, details how processes like blending and corking work, quotes the Bible, and describes the history of a number of varietals. The book dives into liberally into mythology and throws in the poetry of Baudelaire and musings on wine from the likes of Voltaire and Louis Pasteur, the inventor of pasteurization.
In signature Dalí fashion, The Wines of Gala is baffling to read. Instead of organizing the book by particular varietals or regions, he organizes them "according to the sensations they create in our very depths." Types like Bordeaux, rosés, chiantis, Portoguese vinho verdes, and Greek wines are grouped into chapters according to the emotional experience they inspire—“Wines of Frivolity,” “Wines of Veils,” and “Wines of the Impossible,” among others.
“Good wines are the translators of an obscure language that stammers in our veins,” writer and winemaker Louis Orizet muses in his half of the book. Introducing "The Ten Wines of Gala," the second half of the book, he argues that appreciating fine food and wine is as much an art as what Dalí does on a canvas, a running theme for the artist.
“Too many well-advised people have refused taste the right to be considered an art because, they say, the sensorial reactions of our mouth and nose are purely organic and thus belong to a lowly corporeal realm,” Orizet writes. “Far from being an irrefutable demonstration, this attitude is a mere admission of ignorance.”
By the time you're done with the book, you'll be running out to buy yourself a bottle of wine. Or 10.
Dalí: The Wines of Gala is available for $48 from Amazon.